The Dangerous Reason You Shouldn’t Take Nudes (It Has Nothing To Do With Being Slutty)

A couple of weeks ago, a 14-year-old girl–let’s call her Emily–messaged me about a traumatically sticky situation she found herself in: A guy she sent nude photos to–let’s call him Ralph–was threatening to post them online, unless she took more nude photos for him. Sure, Ralph could have been bluffing, but what if he wasn’t? Emily was, understandably, freaking out.

Emily was the victim of extortion and sexual and online harassment. Beyond being effed up, you’d think that there was something that could be done to set Ralph’s ass to the fire, right? You’re probably thinking that Ralph could be alerted to the police, that he can be charged with posting child pornography, that he can get in big trouble for doing this kind of thing to a girl who just happened to make a poor choice in judgement, like every other teenager in the world does.

You, like me, thought that the solution to this problem would be relatively simple. But it’s not. I couldn’t help Emily. Why? Because alerting the police to Ralph’s sick threats or actions can land Emily in a world of trouble, too.

Emily is underage, so with every nude photo she takes of herself, she is producing child pornography. Every time she sends someone a nude photo, she’s distributing child pornography. 

This is a felony offense in the United States. That’s a huge effing deal.

Dealing with your nudes leaking can actually get you in serious trouble with the law. | My Mad Fat Diary

Dealing with your nudes leaking can actually get you in serious trouble with the law. | My Mad Fat Diary

The most I could do was suggest that Emily contact a parent or adult she trusted and see about getting an attorney in case this Ralph a-hole wasn’t fooling around. But, of course, Emily couldn’t even fathom telling her parents; she told me that she would be disowned.

Only 25 states have revenge porn laws, but every state’s law ranges in severity; in Florida it’s sexual cyber harassment, in New Jersey it’s an invasion of privacy. Most still do little to protect the underage person who is willingly taking nude photos of themselves. In general, American laws are so behind the times on this issue. Child pornography laws should obviously still exist, and sickos who produce and distribute them should be taken very seriously. But the fact that a teen girl taking a photo of her own boobs on her iPhone–even if they never leave her Camera Roll–legally counts as possession of child pornography is absolutely mind blowing and antiquated.

The fact that a teen victim of revenge porn can legally be held just as culpable as the bully posting it to the internet is terrifying. But it’s a tough reality: If a teenager takes nude photos of themselves and finds out that they’re getting passed around, they’re basically a criminal who is turning themselves in if they reach out to authorities for help. 

I’m not trying to scare you with some BS worst case scenario, teens are actually getting charged with felonies for taking selfies of themselves naked. A 16-year-old girl from North Carolina was recently charged with two felony sex crimes–against herself–after police found nude photos she and her boyfriend exchanged. She could have gone to jail if she didn’t arrange a plea deal. Her boyfriend is currently facing multiple charges as well and can also be imprisoned. How did their nudes become known to the police? Local authorities were investigating a nudes leak issue that arose at the boyfriend’s high school; his mother gave the police permission to check her son’s phone and voila. The cops didn’t find the nudes they were looking for, but they found nudes, and busted the boyfriend and his girlfriend for it.

Unfortunately, a lot of discussions about dissuading teens, especially teen girls, from taking and sending nudes is entrenched in slut shaming language. Don’t take nudes because you should respect yourself, don’t take nudes because that’s slutty af, etc. Um, taking a photo of your butt doesn’t make you a bad person, no matter how old you are. The issue isn’t that you shouldn’t take nudes of yourself because it’s slutty; we need to stop calling things slutty in general. Screw that. The issue is this: You shouldn’t take nudes if you’re underage because if some disgusting ex decides to leak them or if your bae’s over protective parent discovers them, or if the police somehow find out that they exist, you can find yourself in huge legal trouble. 

I know, there are millions of kids taking nude photos of themselves, and it’s almost funny that they’re all technically the creators, owners, and distributors of child pornography. But it’s the truth, and it only takes one overzealous parent snooping or one untrustworthy hookup partner trying to get under your skin for the law to work against you. Do your parents have the privilege of a high power attorney to make sure you don’t serve jail time if this ever happens to you? For most of us, the answer is no.

naked women censored

The thirst is strong, and if you want to keep taking and sending nudes, you do you. But it’s important that you know that the law is not going to help you if your nudes are ever used against you. There needs to be a stronger push to change these laws, but until then, please be careful out there and think wisely about who you sext with. If you’re ever justified in being paranoid about something, it’s this.

 

Are you surprised by the fact that anyone who is underage and takes nudes of themselves technically owns child pornography? Have you ever gotten into big trouble over nudes? Tell us in the comments!

You can follow the author, Ashley Reese, on Twitter or Instagram. Don’t worry, she doesn’t bite!

 

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  • Julia Mortley

    They are the same and sometime harsher.
    I live in Ontario and I’ve know 14 year old girls who took nudes and got charged when they were leaked.

  • Ellie

    Do you know the laws for in Canada? Since that’s where I live, I’m just wondering if they are the same as the USA.